Exascale’s New Software Frontier: LatticeQCD for Particle Physics

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Exascale’s New Frontier,” a project from the Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility, explores the new applications and software technology for driving scientific discoveries in the exascale era.
The Science Challenge

One of the most challenging goals for researchers in the fields of nuclear and particle physics is to better understand the interactions between quarks and gluons — the building blocks of protons and neutrons, which make up atomic nuclei. Deciphering these fundamental nuclear interactions is key to a variety of scientific enquiries, from designing experiments to test and refine the Standard Model of Particle Physics to achieving a better understanding of dark matter and its interaction with protons and neutrons.

The theory of the strong nuclear force that forms the bonds between these particles is called quantum chromodynamics, or QCD. Making predictions based on QCD requires high-performance computing to solve its complicated mathematical equations. Computational physicists use an approach called lattice QCD, which defines quarks and gluons on a 4D space-time grid, thereby allowing researchers to run calculations on computers.

Why Exascale?

By optimizing lattice QCD calculations to fully utilize the power of exascale supercomputers, the LatticeQCD project enables physicists to run their algorithms on a much larger scale — with some 10 billion degrees of freedom (positions, spins, momenta and other quantities) — and at much faster speeds. This capability will allow them to more realistically simulate the atomic nucleus and to obtain a deeper understanding of the fundamental organization of matter at the subatomic level.

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